Microsoft giving away dev tools to uni students for free

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Microsoft giving away dev tools to uni students for free

Microsoft has unveiled a worldwide software giveaway aimed at arming uni students with the latest designer and developer tools for free.

The Microsoft DreamSpark student program will give students free access to Microsoft’s Expression Products (Web, Blend, Media, Design), Visual Studio (2005/2008 Professional Edition), XNA Creators Club 2.0, SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition, and Windows Standard Server.

Straddling three of the ICT industry’s highest growth segments, development, design and gaming, the Dreamspark offer comes at a timely point for an industry which has experienced difficulty in attracting tertiary enrolments in past years. And already Australian Universities are reacting to the announcement with excitement.

“One of the biggest challenges we face as a nation is how we deliver industry-ready graduates from our schools and universities,” said Justin Brow, digital industry catalyst and Senior Research Associate at QUT. “Microsoft is availing our students with cutting edge technologies so they can develop their own professional abilities; it is a great move which could lead to a better skilled workforce, more innovation and a better economy.”

The program has already released the software as a free download to some 35 million university and college students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

Although Australian students are yet to be included, Microsoft said the software would be available in the first half of this year. To access their free downloads students need only to visit the DreamSpark website select the software they want and verify their student status.

This latest giveaway follows a similar program Microsoft launched last year where students could purchase Microsoft's Office Ultimate 2007 suite (valued at $1150) for just $75. However, where the Office Ultimate program was tied the Volume License Agreement for Universities, the DreamSpark offer is not. Instead, Microsoft Australia is working with the Australian Access Federation, a joint project of Macquarie University and the Australian Federal Government to verify university student status.

Although the Access Federation project is currently in its pilot phase, once complete, students in Australia will be able to download the software for free. A list of universities who currently have access can be found on the Federation project’s website.

Microsoft also plans to extend the program to high school students.

“We want to do everything we can to equip a new generation of technology leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the magic of software to improve lives, solve problems and catalyse economic growth,” said Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates. “Microsoft DreamSpark provides professional-level tools that we hope will inspire students to explore the power of software and encourage them to forge the next wave of software-driven breakthroughs.”
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